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After being shot with his back turned, Anthony Alvarez used his final breaths to ask the police a question: “Why you shooting me?” according to a compilation of body camera footage released Wednesday of the March 31 incident.
Then he said, “I’m gonna die.” Later that night at the hospital, he did.
Two officers from the Chicago Police Department pursued Alvarez, a 22-year-old Latino man, on foot for unknown reasons, though Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot alluded to a possible traffic violation in a news conference. In the body camera footage, one officer eventually yells “Drop the gun!” twice before firing at Alvarez five times seconds later. The 22-year-old’s gun then falls to the side, and officers approach to help him.
“I’m trying to help you. Stay with me, dude,” the other officer involved in the chase says, according to body camera footage.
The department hasn’t released any information about the officer responsible for shooting Alvarez, but reports have identified him as Evan Solano, a six-year veteran of the force. The officer has had four complaints filed on him during this time, according to the Citizens Police Data Project, a database that logs Chicago police interactions. He was placed on a mandatory 30 day paid administrative leave before returning to the force, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I have to stay non-opinionated on facts until I get them from the complete investigation,” said Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown during a press conference Wednesday. “You wouldn't want the police department swaying evidence before it’s completed, the investigation.”.
Alvarez’s killing happened two days after Chicago police shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was also Latino. In body camera footage of the incident, the teen, who was running from an officer, tossed his gun aside and put his hands up before being hit with a single bullet. The officer was put on a 30-day administrative leave.
According to the body camera footage of Alvarez’s killing released Wednesday, he darts down a back alley with multiple cops behind him after rushing out of a gas station parking lot near the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. As he continues to sprint away from two cops on the road for around 30 seconds, an officer yells for him to drop his gun before firing almost immediately. The officer then continues to yell, “Get on the ground!” while Alvarez tries to crawl away from where he dropped the gun, before lying motionless.
“No, I don’t think he shot at me, did he?” the officer who shot Alvarez can be heard saying to other officers as they arrive on the scene. “I shot somewhere right here.”
Other cops who arrive on the scene minutes later can then be heard “shushing” the cop and telling him to “just stop” as they try to resuscitate Alvarez with CPR.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the organization that released bodycam footage Wednesday, has launched an investigation into the incident. A spokesperson for the organization said in a press release shortly after releasing the video that the officer should “be relieved of police powers during the pendency of this investigation.”
The association will give the Chicago Police Department their recommendations on discipline for the officer after they complete a 90-day investigation. In the meantime, Lightfoot has called for peace and patience.
“He was a person that if you need help, he was there for you,” Gustavo Fuentes, a cousin of Alvarez, told the Chicago Tribune. “If you needed something, he was there for you. As a young guy about 22, his mentality was about a guy of 30 because he was a professional person and a good father.”
In 2017, former North Charleston Police Department police officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison for civil rights violations after shooting an unarmed Black man, Walter Scott, in the back five times. Slager attempted to argue he had inadequate legal representation, but a judge ruled last week that the ex-cop would remain in jail.
"What sealed petitioner's fate regarding malice was not the language of his plea agreement or the performance of his defense counsel,” the judge wrote, “but his own willful act of shooting an unarmed man in the back five times as he ran for his life.”